The majority of cocktails are served cold: shaken, stirred or poured over ice. Hot drinks are usually overlooked, save on dessert menus; they aren’t particularly popular and may even feel a bit retro or dated. But when the temperature plunges to record lows (or you just haven’t acclimatized to the recent cold snap), hot drinks can kick-start a full-body glow. Plus, they are great for the holiday season and something that most people likely aren’t overly familiar with, so you’ll seem like quite the cocktail connoisseur if you whip up a batch at your next cold-weather shindig.
One of the classic hot drinks is the toddy, made from a blend of honey, hot water and a spirit (usually whisky, rum or brandy). Many variations exist, incorporating additional flavouring agents like cloves, lemon slices, cinnamon and sometimes tea or heated ginger ale instead of hot water. Hot toddies are pretty strong and a classic nightcap, especially on dreary evenings. Back in the Victorian era, hot toddies were often prescribed as medicine to relieve cold and flu symptoms. If made with some kind of citrus fruit, the
vitamin C in the drink would certainly be beneficial, along with the honey for soothing sore throats. It’s likely that the true relief was from the alcohol content, however—and certainly this holds true today, though take care to drink extra water so as not to dehydrate yourself and end up making things worse.
Mulled wine is the winter version of summer’s sangria: a wine-based hot punch made with a blend of red wine, various spices (including but not limited to cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, black pepper, vanilla pods, star anise, ginger, orange and lemon) and a sweeter (white or brown sugar, molasses, honey or a sugar-free substitute). This brew is simmered slowly on the stove for about an hour before being strained and served hot. Mulled wine is a common holiday drink, and it’s most popular in northern Europe, especially Germany, France and the Scandinavian countries.
Hot Buttered Rum
Consider this the hybrid lovechild between mulled wine and a hot toddy. Hot buttered rum dates back to Colonial America in the mid-1600s, after rum was imported from the Caribbean. Traditionally, it’s made from a blend of dark rum with butter, spices (usually nutmeg and/or cinnamon) and sugar. The great thing about hot buttered rum is that you can prepare the butter well ahead of time by creaming it with the spices and sugar and then stashing it in the fridge, where it will keep for weeks. To prepare the drink, you simply need to add some rum to a mug along with a tablespoon or two of the butter, then top with boiling water and stir.
(Adult) Hot Chocolate
Hot chocolate isn’t just for kids after a day of skating or tobogganing: while they are sipping the plain stuff, make yourself an adult version to take the edge off. Countless boozy variations of hot chocolate exist; it could be as pedestrian as simply dumping a shot (or two or three) of your spirit of choice into the mug (Irish creams and Kahlua work well, or rum/whisky if you want something stiffer), or as fancy as something that takes a fridge full of ingredients and a half hour to prepare. Start trawling online for recipes and prepare to be inundated with all manners of gooey, decadent inspiration.
Possibly the most familiar hot drink that adorns dessert menus everywhere, Irish coffee is often used as a placeholder name for a range of coffee-based hot drinks, typically served after a meal. The standard recipe for Irish coffee calls for a mug of hot coffee mixed with a shot of Irish whiskey and sugar, then topped with thick cream (often whipped, nowadays). The original Irish coffee was invented in the 1940s by head chef Joe Sheridan, who prepared the first batch to warm up a group of American passengers who had just disembarked at Foynes’ Port in western Ireland (now Shannon International Airport) on a frigid winter night.V